Trump Stays Calm in Court. His Emails Tell a Different Story.

At the end of a tense court day in his criminal trial in Manhattan, former President Donald J. Trump on Thursday sent an email to his followers with a dramatic subject line: “I stormed out of court!”

The reality was far more muted.

When the day ended, Mr. Trump calmly left the courtroom, as is typical of many criminal defendants. He strode toward reporters and a camera stationed in the hallway and gave a minute-long statement attacking the case, the judge and the proceedings. Then he exited the building and went home.

Still, in his message to followers, Mr. Trump depicted himself as a firebrand who angrily fled the proceedings over perceived injustice. “I’m DONE with the election interference,” he wrote. “Joe Biden & the LIARS in the media can spread LIES LIES LIES — all while I’m stuck in court and GAGGED!”

Such exaggerated portrayals have become typical for Mr. Trump and his presidential campaign in the weeks since the start of the trial in which he is accused of falsifying business records related to a hush-money payment to a former porn star.

As Mr. Trump sits in New York for the first criminal trial of a former president, he and his campaign have sent a blitz of emails and text messages to his supporters that depict a highly dramatized account of his actions inside the courtroom, where proceedings are far more prosaic than he describes.

The Trump campaign’s emails often contain kernels of truth. The former president is, for example, under a gag order that keeps him from attacking witnesses, jurors and others.

But the messages often elide details or nuances in order to support Mr. Trump’s broad assertions that his trial is a politically motivated “witch hunt.” Despite his claims of forced silence, the gag order has not prevented Mr. Trump from sharing his perception of the case.

And the fund-raising emails frequently insist that the charges he faces are part of a larger “election interference” effort orchestrated by President Biden, a baseless claim that lacks evidence. The New York case is being overseen by the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg, who operates outside the Justice Department’s purview.

Karoline Leavitt, a spokeswoman for the Trump campaign, defended the fund-raising emails and said that “more and more Americans are chipping in every day to support President Trump as they watch him get politically persecuted by Joe Biden and the corrupt Democrats in this sham show trial.”

In the campaign’s telling, Mr. Trump is so aggrieved by the case against him, the conduct of the prosecutors and the decisions of the judge, Justice Juan M. Merchan, that he can barely keep himself from bursting out of his seat as each day concludes.

But the kinds of outbursts he describes would be violations of expected decorum. During court proceedings, Mr. Trump’s demeanor has been relatively restrained, even if he sometimes appears irked by testimony.

Mr. Trump has on occasion conferenced with his lawyers, once making comments that were audible enough to draw an admonition from Justice Merchan. But he has generally kept still and quiet, even appearing to nod off or close his eyes.

At least five fund-raising messages have claimed that Mr. Trump has “stormed” in or out of the courtroom. Reporters covering the trial have said that his movements are more subdued.

On at least six occasions, Mr. Trump has emailed his supporters to announce an imminent “emergency press conference.” In one message this month, he explained, “I’m bypassing the lying FAKE NEWS media and delivering a message directly to THE PEOPLE.”

But those “emergency” news conferences refer to the remarks that Mr. Trump has habitually made as he enters court in the morning and leaves in the afternoon. His comments differ little from what he has said in interviews on the campaign trail. And they are delivered to reporters, in front of a camera that has been stationed outside the courtroom for the duration of the trial.

Still, such exaggerations are consistent with the larger strategy that Mr. Trump and his team have used as they face the unprecedented reality of a major presidential candidate contending with four separate criminal cases.

Eric Wilson, a Republican digital strategist, said the Trump campaign’s emails about the trial reflected the need for it to contend with a constant stream of headlines about the former president’s legal troubles.

“Most campaigns are trying to get themselves in the news; the Trump campaign is sort of uniquely the news,” Mr. Wilson said. “And so they’re in a lot of ways making lemonades out of lemons.”

Central to that effort, he said, was a level of dramatizing certain events. The campaign’s messaging, Mr. Wilson said, “is not the court stenographer — it’s not the New York Times coverage of what’s happening in the courtroom.”

The Trump team has for more than a year tried to use the investigations into Mr. Trump to boost political support among his conservative base.

After Mr. Trump was indicted last spring in Manhattan, polls showed a bump of support for him among Republicans. The former president frequently claims on the stump that each indictment has made him only more popular. And his campaign reported raising millions of dollars after his fourth indictment, in Georgia, when it sent out solicitations using a mug shot that the authorities took there.

A Trump campaign official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss data that was not yet public, said the campaign was raising approximately $1 million each day of the Manhattan trial. Such numbers cannot be independently verified until campaign finance reports are filed, weeks after the trial ends.

Mr. Trump’s emails during the Manhattan trial contend little with the facts of the case or the daily details of the courtroom. But his campaign has been aggressively sending fund-raising solicitations that revolve around the gag order in the case.

Last month, before a hearing on whether he had violated the gag order, he wrote what he told supporters was his “farewell message,” claiming that “if things don’t go our way, I could be thrown in jail.” But at the time, prosecutors had asked the judge only to fine Mr. Trump $1,000 for each violation.

Justice Merchan ultimately found Mr. Trump in contempt of court and fined him $9,000 for nine violations of the gag order. Then, last week, he held Mr. Trump in contempt of court again over another violation, warning Mr. Trump that he might face jail time if he continued to violate the order.

The judge made clear he viewed that penalty as a last resort. “The last thing I want to do is put you in jail,” Justice Merchan told Mr. Trump.

Hours later, the Trump campaign sent an “emergency” fund-raising bulletin. The subject line: “They want me in HANDCUFFS.”

Kate Christobek contributed reporting.

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